Unwanted Kurt Baker sees future in sevens

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 01/11/2012
Kurt Baker
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
DETERMINED: Kurt Baker scored three tries for Taranaki in their 59-18 demolition of Manawatu to retain the Ranfurly Shield.

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Discarded Super Rugby player Kurt Baker was remaining upbeat about his playing future yesterday.

Not wanted by Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph after two years with the franchise, Baker also failed to be picked up in this week's draft, despite a more than reasonable national provincial championship that netted him seven tries.

"I sort of knew I wasn't going to get one, so it's not too bad," he said.

"But I'm disappointed because I thought it was one of my better years for the ‘Naki, especially when you see some of the guys who got contracts. I have to question it, but that's life and I'll move on and she'll be right."

Baker, 24, will now switch his attention to trying to make the New Zealand sevens squad for the remaining IRB world series tournaments.

He is no stranger to sevens, having been part of Gordon Tietjens squad which won Commonwealth Games gold in India.

Talks with Tietjens had been positive and he was hopeful his experience would hold him in good stead.

He had no intention of turning his back on New Zealand rugby and looking for a contract overseas.

"I really enjoy sevens and it's heading up as a sport, so that could me me for the next year or two," he said.

"I've talked to Coops [Taranaki coach Colin Cooper] about it and I'm pretty keen to stay and make amends for the last couple of years when I think we should have done better."

Baker acknowledged he still had a lot to work on with his game, saying he realised he "was far from perfect" but he would still have liked the chance to work on those areas in a Super Rugby environment.

Taranaki will be represented by a record 15 players in next year's Super Rugby competition.

While Baker joins Scott Waldrom on the sidelines for 2013, and Jayden Hayward has switched to the Force and will not be back for Taranaki, several players have been included in squads for the first time.

Blade Thomson and James Marshall are new to the Hurricanes, Rhys Marshall, who will join Taranaki next year, will be at the Chiefs, while Waisake Naholo, Jamison Gibson-Park and Kane Barrett have taken up contracts at the Blues.

Skipper Craig Clarke will lead the Chiefs again, Andre Taylor, Beauden Barrett, Jason Eaton, James Broadhurst and Chris Smylie return to the Hurricanes, Andrew Hore takes over the captaincy at the Highlanders and will be joined by Chris King and Jarrad Hoeata.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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